Kids need sturdy clothes, and hopefully ones that grow gracefully so the child can wear them long enough to wear them out (in the case of the blazer I made my son last summer, Nels continues to wear it despite growing five inches in a year; it is now comically too-short). When my kids were wee their clothing needs were less intense; gone are the days of babies and toddlers who mostly don’t get up to too much rough play.
I mentioned late last month I’d purchased a book with children’s sewing patterns: Sewing Clothes Kids Love: Sewing Patterns and Instructions for Boys’ and Girls’ Outfits (published by Creative Publishing International). The book’s patterns and scope are such that I’ve been inspired to complete all the garments therein and write about it here. I hope all my readers – stitchers and non-sewists alike – find my travels interesting.
A few questions answered:
Why Sewing Clothes Kids Love?
The book Sewing Clothes Kids Love (hereafter called “the Farbenmix book”) has a good scope. In the ten patterns of the book we see practical kidwear that can be constructed according to the age, preferences, and tastes of each child. There are ten patterns in size ranges Euro 86 cm to 152 cm (roughly 2T to size 14). The patterns are not complex in and of themselves and favor loose and comfortable fits, pull-on waists, and elastic or tie features to accommodate a growing and active child.
In addition, the Farbenmix book showcases a high attention to detail and embellishments, the kind of things most children love. It provides a few guidelines for making sure to create something your kid will like and select from the closet over and over again. As those who sew for others know, you have to create something the individual loves, or he/she simply won’t wear it. I’m pretty good at knowing what friends and family like. The ideas and pictures in the Farbenmix book provide additional influences and inspiration for which I am ready and grateful to use.
It is not a perfect book; most of the patterns are styled with distinctly feminine embellishments and pattern lines, leaving creative boy-styled garments in the lurch. However, the focus on garments that play and grow with the child and express children’s unique sensibilities make it a project full of Win for me.
Is this project expensive?
Not really. Home-sewing can be as cheap or as pricey as you make it. In addition, home sewing stands for lots of wear. I have never purchased clothes that last as long as the ones I sew – yes, even on my kids who regularly climb trees, play War and kickball, and rough-house like no one’s business. Homesewn items can have a life beyond those you purchase; yesterday my daughter went to a dance in a dress I made – which had doubled as her Halloween costume last year – and her friend attended the same event in Sophie’s dress form the year before.
Is sewing a money-saving venture? I leave that for others to bicker about. I will say: homesewing takes time, but it’s time I’m thrilled to spend.
Is this project appropriate for beginners?
Well, yes and no. Familiarity with sewing, tracing patterns, adding seam allowances, and fitting children will be a big help – all of which I have in spades. However, a beginner might find themselves intimidated by the many new concepts they have to wrangle at once. If you’d like to tackle the book and would like assistance, please don’t hesitate to email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org or call me at (360)532-9453.
Why sew for kids?
Ready for me to get pop-culture specific? Well here goes anyway. The current craft and homesewing scene is glutted with pornographically cute and often trivial craft projects. These books and sites often contain photographs of adorable (usually white) children doing cute, non-kidlike and non-messy things on sun-washed oak floors; concomitant to this we have the craftster culture of shoddy and fast results meant to clad the (usually thin, young, and white) urban hipster and her closetful of eclectic fare. At the other end, a few monolithic sites showcase rather dressy enterprises for adults’ formal or dressy garments, highlighting tailored techniques.
These markets are being served just fine, and all of these projects have their individual merit. I am all for a newbie sewer having luck embellishing tea towels, then going on to try something more ambitious. In addition, tailor-made details are some I thrive on when it’s appropriate to employ them.
Yet my life is one of caring for a family with young children and a houseful of pets – and one income. I can’t afford too many expensive fabrics while keeping up with my kids’ demand. The Farbenmix book is a perfect avenue to continue sewing expressive, strong, beautiful clothing for people who work and play hard.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, I’d love to help you.
So let’s get started!
What’s your next project?
The projects go from easy to difficult. I am going to start at the beginning – the Imke shirt. (I’ll make up another Dortje pattern and document it, when the time comes).
I’m also going to cover tracing and pattern selection a bit.
I’m really looking forward following along with this series! I hope you’re going to include lots of photos of the process.
I’m looking forward to this series as well. I sew for a boy so I can’t wait to see what you make for your son from the book. I’m still debating the purchase since I’ve read good and bad things about it.
This is just so fun to follow. Seeing what you had so far and handling all the pattern tissue got me all kinds of giddy for the fact that you’ll be documenting this so heavily.
Let’s get this sewing party started!
You all are the wind beneath my wings! I mean I was looking forward to doing it anyway – but your comments mean a lot to me!
I am going to boy-up this business like you wouldn’t believe. First stop: the Imke!
Awesome. I wish I knew how to sew (which I am pretty sure involves sewing). I have doen a little, but nothing cool and precise. I don’t have a working machine. I have an old one my mom gave me, but it doesn’t work right and the repair estimate was as much as I could get a cheapish used machine for. So I have nothing, but would love to do some sewing at some point. Boots always loves the stuff you make your kids (when he sees it in pictures), so I am sure he’d appreciate it. So far I am knitting.
I love to see your works.
I’m so impressed and inspired by your creations. Your kids’ clothes look just perfect – fun, sturdy, timeless. The clothes that survived my childhood were all handsewn by my mom. I was once upon a time a very brave go-for-it sew-er, but the more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know, and I got totally intimidated.
I think you mentioned a gusset-crotch baby pants pattern at some point? Is that something you’d be willing to share for the beginners/re-beginners among us?
So intimidating…it must be a rush to create something and see your family wearing those same creations every day. So where does an absolute greenhorn begin? I took home economics in junior high, but I think my best was a simple pillow by hand. I will follow this series of course, but if you happen to know of any good books/videos/tutorials for newbies to start from scratch, please do share. Thanks!
OMG! I suddenly have a backlog of queries! Let me try to get to them.
1. @Shelley, you wrote an email asking for a sewing machine recommendation. For now I will say: an old rugged zig zag is better than most cheap new machines you can find. Brian Remglinger is a great resource for asking about old machines – we’re talking in the $30 to $100 range, and rock-solid. There are lots of people with lots of opinions but Brian is down to earth – an accomplished sewist who’s not a snob and is very relatable for a beginner. These older machines pass through my life now and then and I try to gift them (or ask reimbursement for the cost of the manual or whatever little thing I buy to get it going) to the person they go to. I will keep you in mind and definitely we should both fish around to see if there’s something in the Oly / Seattle / Peninsula area to shop for a machine. eBay also works – but you may have to get any old machine tuned up (about $70). Still better than a Walmart or even a Kenmore (Sears) new machine, IMO.
If you are willing to spend more you can shop at a sewing machine shop for a new machine.
2. @Carrie: thanks for your compliments! I have sewn many a gusset-crotch pant pattern – I’m wondering if what you refer to here is the flat-pants pattern – very generous for cloth-diapered babies? If so, you can find a pattern and instructions at the bottom of this page. I have made these in size newborn to about 3T and love them.
3. @Kidsync: This little Farbenmix book series I’m doing is for greenhorns. If you purchase the book or get it from the library, you should be able to follow along here with me. I am open and available to any specific questions you have.
Alternatively, a class is usually time-and-money well-spent. You can find classes at quilt shops, fabric shops – yes, even the big chains, and sometimes community colleges (I taught one last year here in Aberdeen).
If you’d like to talk more about sewing, you can email me any time and I can help guide you through the process. Every beginner is different in their aspirations, their desired accomplishments, the amount of money and time they want to spend, etc. You can email me at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org.